Gov. Paterson seeks meeting with mosque developers

NEW YORK - (AP) - Gov. David Paterson, who last week suggesteda proposed Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero might want torelocate elsewhere, will meet soon with the project's developers, aspokesman said Tuesday. Paterson's office declined to say what the meeting would beabout, but Rep. Peter King told The Associated Press that thegovernor wants to discuss possible alternate locations for thePark51 Islamic cultural center and mosque. King said he spoke withthe governor Tuesday. Representatives of the project said no meeting had beenscheduled yet. Paterson last week offered his help and the possibility thatstate land could be provided as an alternate site for the center.The project has ignited nationwide debate over freedom of religionand anger over the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The planned $100 million center would be built two blocks fromthe World Trade Center site, where nearly 2,800 people died whenIslamic extremists flew jets into the twin towers. The project isheaded by Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, a Muslim cleric who has worked toimprove relations between Islam and the West. Morgan Hook, a Paterson spokesman, said talks were under waybetween the governor's office and representatives of Park51 to setup a meeting between Paterson and the project's leaders. "We are working with the developers on a staff level but therehave not been any formal discussions between the governor and imamor developer," Hook said. "We expect to have a meeting scheduledin the near future." Mosque spokesman Oz Sultan released a statement Tuesday sayinghe did not believe a meeting had been scheduled yet. "We appreciate the governor's interest as we continue to haveconversations with many officials," Sultan said. The Washington Post first reported the talks were under way. King, the ranking minority leader of the Homeland SecurityCommittee, said that he had spoken to Paterson on Tuesday and thatthe governor expected the meeting to take place within days.

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